Meera here with an update from our Kindergarten and first grade Kids Crew afterschool program!
Our kindergarteners and first graders love a messy art project, so this spring their teachers and I designed this unit to introduce chemistry concepts through hands-on art projects. Developmentally, children learn best when they can draw upon past experiences while being challenged by new concepts at the same time. We provided projects where students could express themselves confidently and creatively while learning some pretty advanced chemistry concepts.
Here are three experiments you can do at home or in the classroom to interpret chemistry through art:
- Chromatography sun catchers
He carefully colored the edges of a coffee filter with washable marker and placed a few droplets of water on each color. The marker ink traveled through the fibers in the coffee filter at different rates due to the variations in molecule size, resulting in this beautiful chemical creation!
2. Swirling Rainbow Milk Cauldron
Justin and Serena investigated how soap interacts with fat molecules. We poured whole milk onto a plate, added a few drops of food coloring and used a paint brush dipped in dish soap to begin the reaction. The students noticed that the fat molecules and soap molecules repel one another, causing the food coloring to create psychedelic patters and designs.
- “Out of this World” Oil and Water Paintings
After discovering how fat and soap molecules interact in the milk experiment, we tried testing another kitchen chemistry favorite – oil and water. We used pipettes filled with watercolor paints and cooking oil to create these galactic paintings. The kids observed the how the cooking oil repelled the watercolor on their paintings while the watercolor pushed the oil into big droplets.
4. Alka-Seltzer Lava Lamps
We observed the chemical properties of oil and water once again by making these groovy lava lamps! We poured food coloring, oil, and water into a bottle, then dropped a piece of Alka-Seltzer inside and watched the liquids come alive! The food coloring dyes the water, but is repelled by the oil that floats on top, so when the Alka-Seltzer is added, the carbon dioxide bubbles push the colorful water molecules up through the oil, and it creates a lava-lamp effect.